Modularity in Engineering Sustainable Development Course


The modular-in-design concept

The Engineering Sustainable Development course is based on the idea of modular design, where a complex and big system is divided into smaller, distinct parts/modules or as we call them sub-systems.


Generally speaking, modularity and system decomposition is expected to result the following benefits:

1. Simplification: Decomposing large systems into smaller ones will lead to a reduction in the size of the problem that needs to be solve, which will make it easier to manage.

2. Speed: solving smaller problems concurrently will reduce the time needed to solve the overall problem. [Kamrani and Salhieh, 2002]


More specifically, the whole design system of the course (the sustainable design of Texel Island) is divided into eight different sub-systems and specialized groups are working at each one separately and independently. These sub-systems are: Food & More, Health & Happiness, Leisure & Knowledge, Material & Waste, Public Space, Sustainable Mobility, Texel as host and finally our sub-system, which is Water Cycle.


Modularity is based on the idea of interdependence within and independence across modules. [Baldwin and Clark, 2000] The previous chapters were focusing on the idea of independence across the modules and this last one, on the interdependence within the whole system. In typical modular design, the interface indicates how the element interacts with the larger system.


At the end of the design, our development challenge is to integrate the many sub-systems designs into a well-designed system because in the modular design, although the smaller subsystems that can be designed independently, they have to function together as a whole. 


Kamrani, A. and Salhieh, S. (2002) Product Design for Modularity. USA: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Baldwin, C.Y. and Clark K.B. (2000) Design Rules.Volum1: The Power of Modularity. London: The MIT Press